Skip to comments.Doing the Job Media Won't Do: Fact-checking Obama's Gulf Spill Address
Posted on 06/16/2010 2:32:29 PM PDT by Sub-Driver
Doing the Job Media Won't Do: Fact-checking Obama's Gulf Spill Address By Lachlan Markay Created 06/16/2010 - 17:12
Plenty of prominent media figures were upset with President Obama over his substandard address to the nation last night (full text ). While most are distraught, none seem to be doing what should be the essential journalistic task of the day: pointing out all of the factual misstatements the president made.
So, in absence of a serious attempt at fact-checking from the legacy media, let us undertake some of our own.
In all, the president misrepresented the federal government's--and especially his cabinet's--role in creating the conditions that led to the spill, the state of the nation's oil reserves, and his own administration's involvement with BP. Futhermore, his transition from discussing the Gulf spill to advocating "clean energy" legislation was a huge logical leap, and one that necessarily misrepresents the problems the nation faces with regard to energy.
The latter was perhaps the president's most subtle sleight of hand. He claimed the Gulf spill is "the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America's innovation and seize control of our own destiny."
Now, if the president had stated the spill is a reminder that the nation needs to get off of oil--that disasters like this are an unfortunate, if rare consequence of harvesting crude oil--he would have had a point. But that is not what he said. He claimed the disaster underscores the need for "clean" energy, which presumably does not include coal, the dirtiest of them all. But the Gulf spill has no bearing on coal energy.
Also intended to promote the "clean energy" cause was Obama's misleading statement that "Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America." In fact, as the Heritage Foundation notes , China "will account for nearly 45% of oil demand growth in the next five years, receives 70% of its energy from coal already, and is projected to nearly triple coal capacity by 2030."
Say what you will about clean energy or coal, but the president's advocacy of his own energy agenda despite the facts was unseemly and based on a fallacious argument.
Moving forward, Obama also misrepresented the state of the oil industry itself. He claimed that Americans "consume more than 20% of the world's oil, but have less than 2% of the world's oil reserves. And that's part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean - because we're running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water."
"This howler," writes John Hinderaker  at Power Line, "is a favorite canard of Democratic politicians":
As is so often the case, they are relying on the public's ignorance. Most people don't realize that in the U.S., oil isn't counted as part of our "reserves" unless it is legally available for drilling. Thus, ANWR, to take one of many examples, isn't counted toward the total "reserves." The U.S. government could cause our reserves to skyrocket overnight by opening new areas, on land and in shallow water, to drilling. But the U.S. is the only country in the world that has deliberately chosen not to develop its own energy resources. No one else is that dumb.
So the reason oil companies drill a mile beneath the water is not that there are not ample supplies of crude in other parts of the United States, but rather that the federal government does not permit drilling in so many of those areas.
According to Kiplinger Magazine (by way of the American Thinker ), "untapped reserves are estimated at about 2.3 trillion barrels, nearly three times more than the reserves held by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Counties (OPEC) and sufficient to meet 300 years of demand-at today's levels-for auto, aircraft, heating and industrial fuel, without importing a single barrel of oil."
The misdeeds of the oil industry were, of course, a frequent refrain in the president's speech. But he also misrepresented that industry's culpability by claiming "time and again, the path forward [to further regulation] has been blocked by oil industry lobbyists."
What the president conveniently neglected to mention, however, was that BP has been an advocate of most of his energy agenda. As the Examiner's Tim Carney reminds us :
BP "has lobbied for tax hikes, greenhouse gas restraints, the stimulus bill, the Wall Street bailout, and subsidies for oil pipelines, solar panels, natural gas and biofuels
BP was a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a lobby dedicated to passing a cap-and-trade bill. As the nations largest producer of natural gas, BP saw many ways to profit from climate legislation, notably by persuading Congress to provide subsidies to coal-fired power plants that switched to gas.
Though the company left USCAP, it did not stop lobbying for cap and trade, and later "signed off" on Senate cap and trade legislation as well as explicitly lobbied for a higher gas tax. So Obama's insistence the oil industry has opposed relevant regulations tooth and nail is less than accurate.
While Obama was placing as much unearned blame at industry's feet as possible, he was also sidestepping his own administration's complicity in the crisis. He stated towards the beginning of his speech:
A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe - that the proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken.
That obviously was not the case in the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why.
Well, perhaps he should ask his cabinet members--you know, the ones he just put in charge of the new commission investigating the incident. On March 31 in a speech at Andrews Air Force Base, he told the nation that Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and climate czar Carol Browner had assured him that additional Gulf Coast drilling would be safe.
But the president of course did not put the blame at their feet. In fact, as Byron York noted :
[I]n this moment of crisis, Obama is relying on the same team that earlier gave him "the assurance that [offshore drilling] would be absolutely safe" -- advice that he now openly says was wrong. And what is the "green team" telling him now? That it is impossible to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf. Politico's Mike Allen channels West Wing thought this way: The Gulf gusher is a battle we can't win. So we had to make this tragedy about something bigger than the liveshot of spewing oil. So having surrendered on the challenge of stopping the oil, Obama tried to redirect the public's attention away from the spill and onto the political debate over a cap-and-trade bill. The short version of the strategy: Give up and change the subject. Like everything else Obama has tried so far in the Gulf crisis, it won't work.
‘Twould be much easier to fact check a prompter-umplugged address: “Uh...uh.....uh...um...er.....uh.....” (repeat for 20 minutes.
Earth to MSM - YOUR president is dumb, stupid, and completely vapid.
Just got this surprising e-mail. AP did a little fact checking of their own. Sorry no link so I’ll just dump it here:
Date: 6/16/2010 3:32 AM
BC-US—Oil Spill-Obama-Fact Check/854
Eds: Also moved yesterday. Moving on general news and financial services.
FACT CHECK: Obama left blanks in oil spill speech
CALVIN WOODWARD,Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) In assuring Americans that BP won’t control the compensation fund for Gulf oil spill recovery, President Barack Obama failed to mention that the government won’t control it, either.
That means it’s anyone’s guess whether the government can, in fact, make BP pay all costs related to the spill.
Obama aimed high in his prime-time Oval Office address Tuesday night perhaps higher than the facts support and history teaches as he vowed to restore livelihoods and nature from the still-unfolding calamity in the Gulf of Mexico.
A look at some of his statements and how they compare with those facts:
OBAMA: “We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused and we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy. ... Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party.”
THE FACTS: An independent arbiter is no more bound to the government’s wishes than an oil company’s. In that sense, there is no certainty BP will be forced to make the Gulf economy whole again or that taxpayers are off the hook for the myriad costs associated with the spill or cleanup. The government can certainly press for that, using legislative and legal tools. But there are no guarantees and the past is not reassuring.
It took 20 years to sort through liability after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, and in the end, punitive damages were slashed by the courts to about $500 million from $2.5 billion. Many people who had lost their livelihoods in the spill died without ever seeing a check.
OBAMA: “In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well.”
THE FACTS: BP and the administration contend that if all goes as planned, they should be able to contain nearly 90 percent of the worst-case oil flow. But that’s a big “if.” So far, little has gone as planned in the various remedies attempted to shut off or contain the flow. Possibly as much as 60,000 barrels a day is escaping. BP would need to nearly triple its recovery rate to reach the target.
OBAMA: Temporary measures will capture leaking oil “until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely.”
THE FACTS: That’s the hope, but experts say the relief well runs the same risks that caused the original well to blow out. It potentially could create a worse spill if engineers were to accidentally damage the existing well or tear a hole in the undersea oil reservoir.
OBAMA: “From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history.”
THE FACTS: Early on, the government established a command center and put Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen in charge of coordinating the overall spill response. But officials also repeatedly have emphasized that BP was “responsible” and they have relied heavily on BP in making decisions from hiring cleanup workers to what oil dispersing chemicals to use. Local officials in the Gulf region have complained that often they don’t know who’s in charge the government or BP.
OBAMA: “We have approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try and stop the oil before it reaches the shore.”
THE FACTS: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and local officials pleaded for weeks with the Army Corps of Engineers and the spill response command for permission to build about 40 miles of sand berms along the barrier islands.
State officials applied for an emergency permit to build the berms May 11, but as days went by Jindal became increasingly angry at federal inaction. The White House finally agreed to a portion of the berm plan on June 2. BP then agreed to pay for the project.
The corps was worried that in some cases such a move would alter tides and drive oil into new areas and produce more harm than good.
OBAMA: “Already, I have issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety and for the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue.”
THE FACTS: Obama issued a six-month moratorium on new permits for deepwater drilling but production continues from existing deepwater wells.
Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, H. Josef Hebert and Jim Drinkard in Washington, Brian Schwaner in New Orleans and Carol Druga in Atlanta contributed to this report.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
He tried to “not waste a good crisis” and he was too smart by half. It backfired.
Now, if he had waited until after the spill was stopped and contained he could have gotten a little more traction with the True Believers. Thank God he simply couldn’t wait.
his biggest lie?
“hello... i’m barak 0bama”
really?? prove it.
Snip: In the first few years after the tragedy, tremendous pressure was put up by the American corporate lobby and the government on India to save the US-based Union Carbide, the parent company, from civil and criminal liability.
As a result, at every little step, the law could not provide justice to the over 15,000 who died due to the gas leak. More than five lakh victims who suffered chronic diseases are struggling and pleading for help, even now.
The June 7 judgment of a local court in Bhopal, sentencing the convicted officials of the Indian arm of Union Carbide to a mere two-year sentence, has made the entire nation feel small and impotent before the might of the multinational corporations, the sluggish Indian justice system and its spineless political establishment.
aka Barry Soetero.....
You thought that subtle?
What if Bush had said of 9/11, "This event is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to improve our relations with the muslim world is now."
I thought it was blatant, manipulative and cynical.
It was crazy that he lauched right into a discussion of the cap and trade bill.
Not exactly inspiring leadership, is it?
Thanks for posting.
The enviromentalists will be happy!
Their hearts are full of joy. The Kenyan’s administration is pushing for tough sanctions against America, to stop it’s capability to extract coal, gas, and oil for energy production.
Ill catch up on FR when I can see better... ;)
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.